2006 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

Tom Salt

I went to college with a sheikh. He was a fun guy to hang out with, because his worldview was shaped by the unshakable confidence that comes with having a long row of zeros on your bank statement. He knew that he'd never get in trouble for anything short of arson or murder, so he was always good for creative, entertaining mischief. Yet he was also a practicing Muslim, which gave him a curious combination of rich-guy exuberance and religious restraint. He didn't drink and he prayed regularly, but he'd also amuse himself by sending the dean's office a subscription to Penthouse and a bag of mushrooms. After visiting Dubai to drive the new Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, I now see where that young sheikh was coming from, literally. The glitziest city in the United Arab Emirates exhibits a similar curious dichotomy between enormous, flashy wealth and a culture that is, in a lot of ways, straight out of the Puritan playbook.

Dubai has no bars (except in hotels, at least thirty-five of which are five-star rated), women are required to dress modestly in public, and possessing drugs or a man-crush on Brad Pitt will get you locked up until the Detroit Lions win the Super Bowl. Apparently, all the various sordid impulses repressed by the Arab M.O. are released behind the wheel, because the driving verges on anarchy.

Imagine the road discipline of a third-world country combined with the infrastructure of Germany and the automotive mix of Beverly Hills, and you've got the basic idea. Need to get on the highway but don't see a convenient on-ramp? Simply drive up the nearest exit ramp and hang a right at the end. Feel a need for speed? Open it up. There are very few cops, and speeding violations caught on camera result in a ticket in the mail that you can pay the next time you get your car registered. And the roads . . . One desolate stretch of fresh, glassy pavement outside the city stretches about fifteen miles toward a single hotel, and it features not a residence or a business along the way, yet its entirety is lined with streetlights. Assuming that you manage not to perish in a horrible accident, driving in Dubai makes for great fun, which likely is why Porsche chose it to showcase its ultimate Cayenne. Given the crazy highway speeds and the prevalence of Cayenne Turbos, this is one of the few places in the world where the Cayenne Turbo S's top-speed advantage over its lesser sibling (168 mph to 165 mph) isn't purely academic. Also, the UAE offers miles of sand dunes to play in, lest we forget that this is a serious off-roader.

With 520 hp and a full complement of boonies-bashing hardware, the Cayenne Turbo S takes aim at the upper echelons of two very disparate genres-off-roaders and luxury sport sedans-and capably mixes it up with them both. While most crossover SUVs achieve a "jack of all trades, master of none" balance of abilities, the Cayenne Turbo S is jack of all trades, master of each. It's like a Leatherman tool that includes a machete and a flamethrower. By my standards, anything that does 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds is a sports car. Anything with 10.8 inches of ground clearance, a low-range transfer case, and locking center and rear differentials is an off-roader. And anything that tows 7716 pounds is a truck. This animal is all of the above.

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